Chilli is unsurprisingly, not very chilly at all! Chilli peppers help to add a real kick and flavour to a wide variety of dishes from all over the world. Not only are they a staple in meat dishes and soups, people have even started putting them, in chocolate and alcoholic beverages!
The fact is chilli is amazingly diverse as a taste sensation. Whether or not you have the taste buds to withstand the heat, it’s hard to ignore just how many chilli-inspired products and dishes there are out there. Here’s a few interesting facts about chilli peppers…
Many people will know ‘chilli’ on its own as a short name for chili con carne. It’s a hugely popular dish which consists of – obviously – chilli peppers, ground meat, beans, tomatoes and sometimes onions. There are plenty of regional variations on the dish, though it is largely enjoyed as a big pot of spicy beef!
Chilli peppers come in an amazing array of different varieties. In fact, it is thought that Mexico is home to around 140 of them – have you tried them all? If not, there’s no time like the present.
However, while Mexico hosts scores of different pepper breeds, it’s actually Bolivia where you are most likely to get a pick of the biggest pepper crop, at least in the wild. Peru, however, also challenges this crown, as it’s home to an incredible diversity of cultivated pepper varieties.
There’s actually a scientific way to measure how hot chilli peppers actually are. You can measure the strength and heat intensity – or spiciness – using the Scoville index.
Chilli peppers are also incredibly low in calories. It’s thought that around 100g of chilli pepper will provide 40 calories.
Not only that, but if you can stand the heat, you’ll get stacks of vitamin C from a chilli pepper. In fact, there’s more vitamin C in a pepper than there is in an orange!
Chilli powder, too, is rich in helpful vitamins. Specifically, around a teaspoon of the stuff will likely give you enough vitamin A for the whole day, according to recommended amounts.
Chilli peppers’ capsaicin content provides the burning sensation – but believe it or not, birds don’t find it spicy at all. This is partly why there are so many different types of chilli pepper all over the world – birds are helping to spread them across the landscape!
Chilli itself is thought to have become popular in the US through the San Antonio Chilli Stand. This setup debuted at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893. It was from here that Americans developed a real flavour for the dish, and since then, it’s become the official dish of Texas.
It’s thought that eating chilli peppers will help to lower your blood pressure. Not only that, but they might also help with various aches and pains, too. If you’re looking for a great immunity booster, eating a few chilli peppers should prepare you for the worst all the same.
The US loves its chilli and dishes so much that there’s an official National Chilli Day. This falls on the 4th of February every year.
The spiciness of chilli peppers is actually a defence mechanism! However, while it might deter mammals in the wild from munching on them, it hasn’t stopped humans from developing a taste. Ans as mentioned, it hasn’t stopped birds taking a munch or two, either!
Jalapeño and Thai bird’s eye chilli
The hottest chilli pepper on the planet, according to official records, is known as the Carolina Reaper. Let’s put things in perspective. If you have ever tried tabasco before, you’ll know that there is quite a kick. Tabasco measures at around 2,500 on the Scoville scale. The Carolina Reaper measures in at 1,569,000. Yikes!
It’s thought that Christopher Columbus was responsible for first coming across chilli peppers during his expeditions in the Americas. Therefore, peppers – and chilli spiciness – have been part of our culinary landscape since the 15th Century.
Despite most wild peppers growing in South America, India remains the biggest producer of chilli itself, accounting for a quarter of all exports!
Do you know any interesting or fun facts about chilli peppers that we’ve not mentioned? Share them here in the comments section below!